For As Long As I Live
Rating: NC-17 for explicit m/m sex and a few bad words. <g>
Disclaimer: No copyright infringement intended, this story is strictly for fun, not profit.
Sequel/Series: Sequel to A Second Chance
Author's notes: Thanks to Kris and Sherri for beta'ing this story. I was told this story
is heartbreaking, so consider yourselves warned. I can tell you there's a happy end with
enough saccharine to make you all diabetic, though. <bg> This was inspired by my
favorite French poem, which you will find at the end of the story. For As Long As I Live is the
For As long as I live, my heart will
Ezra snuggled contentedly into his lover's naked body. It was good to have Chris back
after a week away for a weaponry symposium in New York. He didn't remember the 'welcome
back' lovemaking, but it must have been something else because he was feeling extremely
A stray thought tingled in the back of his mind but he pushed it away; he wasn't ready
to wake up just yet. He nuzzled Chris' chest gently, tongue darting out to lap at the
smooth skin, enjoying the soft moan his caress wrought from the other man.
Somewhere in the house, a door opened and a beloved voice called out, "Ezra, I'm
back! Where are you?"
Footsteps echoed throughout the apartment, obviously searching for him. The stray
thought rushed full force into his consciousness at that moment. He had no recollection of
Chris coming home, no idea how he had ended up in bed, naked. And the musky scent of the
male body nestled with his was all wrong.
He raised his head abruptly, staring wide-eyed into the face of a perfect stranger,
just as the footsteps reached the bedroom. Feeling his heart breaking with every breath he
took, Ezra looked up at the man standing by the foot of the bed. Chris' eyes were wide
with shock, disbelief, betrayal, and anger.
Without saying a word, the blond man turned and stormed out of the room.
"No!" Ezra jumped from the bed, snatching a sheet to cover his nudity, and
rushed after his lover. "Chris! Chris, please! This isn't what it looks like!"
Chris swung around suddenly, nearly knocking him off his feet. "Not what it looks
like?" he spat angrily. "A year. A fucking year, Ezra. We've been together for a
year and you couldn't do without for a week?! Is this how you love me? Going behind my
"Chris, please!" Ezra pleaded brokenly, trying to make himself heard over his
lover's shouting. "I've never seen that man in my life, I swear! Please, let me try
to explain --"
"No! Not another word or so help me God --"
Ezra watched Chris clench his fists, eyes squeezed tight, breath coming out in harsh
pants. He took a step back. Chris' anger was so strong, it was pouring out of him in
waves, making it almost impossible to breathe or even think around him.
With a sudden shout, Chris pulled his arm back in preparation to throw a punch and Ezra
closed his eyes, waiting for the fist to make impact with his body. He wasn't going to put
up a fight; as out of control as Chris was at the moment, they could end up doing serious
damage to each other.
He felt the air shift as the fist hit its mark, then the sound of bone breaking. For a
long moment all he could hear was their painful panting, then a door slammed closed and he
was left alone in the hall.
Opening his eyes slowly, he saw the dent on the wall. Chris had punched the wall, not
him. Somehow, whilst in the middle of a murderous rage, the other man had still cared
enough not to hurt him.
Stifling a sob, he walked back to the bedroom. He thought briefly about going after
Chris, but by the time he got dressed the other man would be long gone. And it would be
better to let his lover cool off before trying to reason with him. Now he would just be
spoiling for a fight.
The bed was empty, but he could hear noise coming from the bathroom. He dressed
quickly, then moved to the kitchen to make some coffee. He was pouring the strong liquid
into two cups when the man walked in, looking strangely subdued.
"Sit down," Ezra ordered in a soft, but firm voice. The man obeyed, sitting
down by the kitchen table, and Ezra handed him a cup before taking a seat himself.
"Did we do anything tonight?"
The man shook his head. "No."
Now that Ezra was beginning to think clearly again, a strange sense of calm settled
over him. He felt numb, emotionless. He watched the other man quietly. He was in his
mid-thirties, tall and slim, with curly, blond hair and clear, blue eyes. Quite handsome
indeed, Ezra thought dispassionately.
"Who are you? Why did you do this?"
"My name's Paul Lagerfeld. I... I was paid to do it. A guy approached me in a bar
this afternoon and offered me a thousand dollars. Said all I had to do was get us both
naked in bed and wait for someone to come and catch us together. I was told the door would
be unlocked and you would be drugged. I don't know the guy's name, never seen him there
before. I know I shouldn't have done it, but I needed the money. My wife's pregnant and
I'm out of a job. For what it's worth, I'm sorry."
Ezra nodded absently. He had worked long enough as an undercover agent to know
Lagerfeld was telling him the truth. "Give me the name of the bar."
"Rainbow. It's on 5th and Main."
"Very well. You can go now."
Lagerfeld was clearly surprised. "You're not going to call the cops?"
"No. I believe you are speaking the truth."
The other man rose from his seat on the table. "Thank you. I... I'm a regular at
the Rainbow. If you need anything, I'll be there."
Ezra was oblivious to the man's exit from his home. He was too busy trying to decipher
who had done such a thing and why. And how he was going to convince Chris he was innocent.
The blond man was the first good thing in his life since he could remember; he wasn't
about to let him go without a fight.
The next morning he arrived at the office before 9:00 am. If not for the numbness in
his heart he would have laughed as Buck nearly fell from his chair when he saw him.
"Ezra," Buck breathed incredulously. "It's Monday morning, not even 9:00
am yet. Are you okay, pard?"
"My God!" Nathan exclaimed from somewhere in the room. "Ezra, are you
sick? What are you doin' here so early?"
He ignored their questions for the moment, searching the room until his eyes settled on
Vin. "Where is he?" he asked simply.
"Called a few minutes ago, said he was takin' some time off." Vin replied.
"Why? Something happened between you two?"
Ezra could see the worry on the five men's faces. Buck had told him recently that one
of the happiest days of his life had been when Chris and Ezra had announced they were a
couple. That they looked good together and that he couldn't remember Chris being that
happy in a very long time.
"What happened, hoss?" Buck asked softly, as if reading his mind.
"I need your assistance," Ezra told them quietly.
It was hard for him to ask for their help, but he knew he would be powerless against
Chris' temper. With Vin and Buck by his side there was a chance the other man might listen
to him. If he tried it alone, Chris would either refuse to even speak to him, or would
A phone ringing broke through his forlorn train of thought. He knew it was his phone,
even knew who it would be, but somehow his body didn't obey his command to move.
He watched JD reach for it instead. "Hello? No, it's JD. Oh, hi, Tom, what's up?
Yeah, I'll tell him. Sure. Thanks. Bye." He hung up, then turned to the others.
"It was Tom from the lab. He said to tell Ezra that he was right; the whiskey was
drugged. It'll probably take a couple of days to identify the drug, though."
"What's goin' on, pard?" Vin asked, with a worried frown.
"Let's move to the conference room, brothers," Josiah suggested. "I'm
sure Ezra will feel more comfortable speaking to us there."
Ezra nodded gratefully and they moved to the meeting room, taking their usual seats. He
refused to even look at the chair at the head of the table where Chris usually sat. Better
to keep his mind off his lover and on his plan.
"Now, why don't you tell us what's goin' on?" Nathan asked gently.
It took a while, but Ezra did tell them what had happened the night before, from the
time he had woken up to his conversation with Lagerfeld.
"And the whiskey?" Josiah finally asked.
"It was the last thing I recalled ingesting," Ezra explained softly. "I
brought the bottle with me this morning. I left it in the capable hands of the lab
personnel before I came up to the office. Told them it was urgent."
"But why do this?" JD asked with a frown. "What for?"
"I spent the night making phone calls, trying to discover who might have ordered
it done. My relationship with Chris is not public knowledge, obviously. It could never be.
Only a handful of people have been told," Ezra said, looking at his hands. "I
believe I know who's behind it. I also believe I can wring a confession out of that
person. What I need from you gentlemen is help in explaining the whole situation to
Vin nodded in understanding. "He won't listen to us if we just say we heard the
confession. He's too mule-headed for that. We have to make him listen to it as well."
"But how?" Nathan asked. "There's no way we can ask him to meet us
somewhere. He'd know immediately what this is about and refuse."
"We could record the confession," JD suggested. "Use a bug."
Buck grinned suddenly. "I have somethin' better. The new video cameras we got last
week, we haven't used them yet. They're the size of a button, can be rigged anywhere and
the sound/picture quality is supposed to be excellent. Once we have the confession on
tape, we can show it to Chris. Even if we have to tie him to a chair to do it."
"Could you install one of the cameras in my living room?" Ezra asked him.
"Sure! Better make it two or three just to be on the safe side. In case somethin'
goes wrong, we have more than one copy."
"Good. Time to set the trap," Ezra remarked, reaching for his cell phone and
dialing a number. "It's me," he stated when there was an answer on the other
side. "Something... something has happened. I need to meet with you. Yes, my
apartment will be fine. After lunch, yes. Very well. Thank you." He ended the call.
"Everything is set. Mr. Wilmington, I will drive you to the apartment so you can
install the equipment."
"Are you going to be okay, son?" Josiah asked gently.
He thought about using one of his usual diversionary tactics, but decided to settle for
the truth. "I'm not certain, Mr. Sanchez. It will depend on this venture's outcome.
But either way, this afternoon I will be facing one of the most painful moments in my
life," he said, abandoning the room and leaving five perplexed men behind.
Ezra heard the doorbell, but didn't make a move to answer it. He looked out the window,
seeing the surveillance van that concealed his friends, knowing they would be surprised by
his visitor's identity. The bell chimed again, then the sound of keys was heard and the
Footsteps approaching alerted him to the fact he was no longer alone in the room, but
still he didn't move.
"Why didn't you answer the door?" his visitor asked, annoyance clear in her
"I wanted to see if you still kept the key I had given you," Ezra replied,
finally turning to face her. "Mother, you look as lovely as ever."
"What did you wish to see me about, Ezra?" Maude asked impatiently. "You
know I'm on my way to Los Angeles, child. I believe I mentioned this when I paid you a
visit on Saturday."
He remained silent for a long moment, staring into the face of the woman who should
have loved him unconditionally and yet never did. He tried to control the hurt she always
brought with her whenever she was around, but as he felt his heart contract painfully in
his chest, he knew he had failed.
He should have known better when she had appeared unexpectedly on his doorstep Saturday
morning. She only ever visited when she wanted him to accompany her to some fancy party to
impress the new millionaire on her prospect list, or when she needed something from him.
But after over a year without seeing her, he had been too content to remember how things
were between them.
"Why did you do it?" he asked suddenly. "Was it because I refused to
travel with you to Los Angeles and marry the 'rich brat'? Was it because I told you I was
in love with Chris Larabee? What?"
"What are you talking about?"
"Don't play games with me, mother! I know this is your doing. Until Saturday the
only people who knew about my relationship with Chris were our friends and I trust them
with my life. Then the day after I tell you, suddenly this happens. What did you do? Tell
"All right!" she snapped. "I did it! Is that what you wanted to hear? I
couldn't believe my ears when you told me you were in love with another man. Lord, there
we were, having lunch together for the first time in a year and suddenly my child, my only
son, tells me he's in love with a man. I didn't raise you to be a sodomite, Ezra!"
"How?" he asked flatly, ignoring the hurtful words.
"You had mentioned Mr. Larabee would be returning Sunday night from a symposium,
so I knew it would have to happen then. You said that you were going out Saturday night to
meet with Mr. Tanner and Mr. Wilmington, so I waited until you left and used the key to
enter into the apartment. You had the alarm off, and even if it was on, you had given me
the code as well. The drug was easy to come by, you know I always get what I want and
money is no problem. I drugged the whiskey and left."
"How did you know I wouldn't drink it before the right time?"
She smirked. "I know you. That's your special whiskey. You only drink it once a
day, right after dinner. Since you went to meet with your friends Saturday night, I
guessed you would only drink it the next day, Sunday."
"And the man?"
"I met a gentleman in my hotel bar on Sunday morning. Using my considerable
charms, it wasn't too difficult to convince him to help me. I paid him royally for his
services, of course."
"Of course," Ezra echoed sarcastically.
"I gave him a thousand dollars, told him to search for a handsome young man and
gave him your address. Told him what time to send the man, that the door would be unlocked
and what I wished him to do. With that taken care of, I waited until after dinner and used
the key to go into the apartment again. As I suspected, you had already drunk the whiskey
and were sleeping soundly on the sofa. I walked out, leaving the door unlocked. The rest,
as they say, is history."
Ezra laughed bitterly. "It was a brilliant plan, I grant you that. A year ago it
would have worked; I would have gone running back to you, leaving Denver far behind, along
with my career. I would have gone along with your scheming, becoming the shallow jet-set
butterfly you wish me to be. But not now."
"I did, Mother. I found a family with those men you believe to be so 'beneath' me.
I found someone I love and who loves me back. Nothing you can think of doing will change
She shook her head, clearly exasperated. "Ezra, you are withering away in this
place. You have any idea how much money that girl's father has in his bank account? More
than you and I have ever seen in our whole lives! We could spend the rest of our days
traveling the world, mingling with the best of them, living it up."
"You mean *you* would do all those things, I would have to play the good husband
and put up with a wife who, according to you, is a 'spoiled brat and mean as a
"It would only be for a few years, then you could divorce her. You could be so
much more, Ezra! You are bright, resourceful, handsome... You could use those attributes
in your favor."
"I already do, Mother, to apprehend miscreants."
"And getting shot at, being beaten within an inch of your life, having to commune
with the lowest forms of human life and getting a miserly pay in return. Lord in heaven,
why did you have to be so stubborn? I have tried and tried to get you out of this debasing
profession, why do you keep fighting me?"
He looked at her suspiciously. "What do you mean by that?"
"Did you truly believe it was merely a coincidence that I gifted you with the
Jaguar when I did? Right at the moment when the rumors about you being corrupt had
"You knew?" he asked, incredulous.
She laughed softly. "Knew? I paid all the right people to spread them. I wanted
you by my side, where you belong. Enjoying the comfort and luxury our position in society
affords us, not crawling around filthy streets chasing dangerous criminals. I wanted you
safe and sound and as far away from law enforcement as possible. You are so much better
than those brainless agents, you deserve to be so much more," she huffed
disgustingly. "I confess I never counted for your stubbornness. The more the rumors,
the more you fought. Then, you were transferred and I had to stop my campaign or risk
"I don't want to hear any more," he whispered dejectedly. "Get out,
"Ezra, you can't possibly --"
"Mother," he interjected roughly. "If are not out of this house in a
minute, I'll have you arrested. Do you understand?"
Her eyes flashed angrily, but she nodded. "Very well. But you'll be sorry. I was
only watching out for you, trying to protect you from yourself and your so-called friends.
How long do you believe these men will stay by your side? How long do you think Chris
Larabee will keep on loving you? In the end, I will be the only one left, Ezra. Remember
He didn't hear her leaving, he didn't remember falling on his knees to the floor. He
was brought back from his daze by gentle hands cupping his face and forcing him to look
into Nathan's concerned eyes.
"Ezra? How you doin'?"
Finding his voice with some difficulty, he replied, "Could be better, Mr.
"I bet!" Buck murmured from beside him. "Here."
Ezra reached for the beer, drinking most of it in one swallow. "Did you get
everything?" he asked.
"Every single word, Ez," JD answered sadly.
"Good. Go find Chris and give him the tape."
"What are ya goin' to do?" Vin asked softly.
"Me? Get impossibly drunk and try to forget this day ever happened."
He knew he shouldn't have listened to Josiah. He should have gotten drunk like he had
planned. Instead he lay on his bed, eyes closed, trying unsuccessfully to still the
deafening whirlwind going on inside his head. Dozens of thoughts rushed through his mind,
too flitty for him to catch and analyze rationally. Why? God, why? Why didn't she love
him? Was it his fault somehow? Had he done something to make her stop loving him? And how
could he still love her after all she had done?
Voices from the other side of the closed door told him Josiah was no longer alone in
the living room. He wasn't certain of how much time had passed since his mother had left,
but a few hours at least must have slipped through his control. It was probably just the
others returning from their mission.
His heart thudded in his chest at the thought that maybe Chris hadn't returned with
them. That maybe the tape hadn't been enough. Maybe there would be no turning back for
them. Maybe it was all over.
He kept his eyes closed as the door opened and someone walked in quietly. He could hear
nothing but the other man's breathing, soft and steady, and he knew it was Chris in the
room with him.
Ezra felt a pressure on the bed behind him as Chris sat, then shifted, coming closer
until he lay alongside him, wrapping his arms carefully around him from behind. One hand
was wrapped in a cast, and he remembered the dent on the wall and the sound of bone
breaking during their fight. Had it been just the night before?
"I'm sorry," was suddenly whispered in his ear, so softly and full of regret
that he felt his heart breaking. He tried to turn but Chris tightened his hold on him,
preventing him from moving. "Don't," he begged gently. "Please, Ezra. I
just want to... apologize. I want to make it right. I know I can't... but I need to try.
I'm a coward; I can't face you. If I try... the words won't come out right."
Swallowing hard, Ezra nodded his consent, lifting his hand hesitantly until it rested
on Chris' wrist. He brushed his fingers gently against the smooth skin, silently giving
his support to the other man.
"I loved Sarah and Adam with everything I had in me," Chris began, his breath
tickling the small hairs at the nape of Ezra's neck. "When they died... part of me
went with them. I couldn't even hear the word 'love'. I was angry at the world, at myself
for lettin' them die. I didn't want anybody else, I didn't *need* anybody else. Or so I
thought. Then you stormed into my life and everything changed. I knew what was happenin'
and I fought it, and you, tooth and nail. But it was too late. Best thing I ever did was
punch the jerk who was groping you in that bar. It certainly got the ball rollin',"
he added ruefully and Ezra chuckled. "Thing is, I just don't get what you see in me,
Ez. I'm an insensitive bastard, I have a mean temper, more life-scars than I care to
remember, and I'm older than you. You've traveled the world, you have money and birth,
you're educated... Everything I'm not. I guess I've been waitin' for the moment when you
realized what a lousy bargain you were gettin' and left."
"Chris, no! I --" Ezra began, again protesting his lover's words.
"Wait," Chris interjected softly. "Let me finish or I'll never say it.
When I walked in the room last night and saw you in the arms of another man I thought that
moment had finally come, you'd finally seen the light and were through with me. It doesn't
make right what I said, what I did, I just want you to understand. And I *am* sorry."
Ezra finally twisted out of Chris' grasp and rolled over to face him. "Lord,
you're a moron," he stated with a grin. "I love you. I wouldn't have cared if
you were the poorest, grumpiest man on Earth. That's not how this works. Your temper and
your scars don't matter to me; I have my own. And no matter what you think, you do care.
Sometimes too much. You're a good man, Chris Larabee, you have a good heart. *That's* why
I love you. The rest..." he shrugged, "are just quirks I can live with."
"Yeah?" Chris breathed, a slight smile breaking through.
"Yeah," Ezra replied, then brought their lips together in a gentle
Instantly, arms caught him tighter, drawing him closer. He was crushed against the
blond man, a mouth devouring his, hands roaming over his body feverishly, remembering,
rediscovering what was thought lost. And at that moment, there was a knock on the door.
They broke apart, chuckling a little breathlessly.
"I believe our colleagues are somewhat worried about us."
"You might be right, Ez," Chris replied as they sat up, leaning against the
The door opened and their five friends walked in quietly, sitting meekly on the bed.
"Everything okay?" JD finally asked.
"That's up to Ezra," Chris replied softly.
Ezra looked at him, seeing nothing but love in the beautiful eyes, and smiled.
"Yes, Mr. Dunne, everything is just fine."
"What about your mother?" Nathan asked. "What do you want us to
"Nothing?" Buck exploded angrily, jumping from the bed. "She destroyed
your life, Ez! She should pay for what she did!"
"I know," he replied, looking down at his hands. "I don't think she has
any idea of the enormity of the error she made."
He allowed Chris to hold his hand. "Anything in particular you're thinking
on?" his lover asked.
Ezra hesitated. It wasn't that he didn't want to tell them, but some things were better
off left alone.
He looked into Josiah's warmth-filled eyes and knew they deserved to know of his past.
He owed them that, and so much more. "A few months before Chris and Vin went to
Atlanta to check me out... I was undercover and when I needed help there was no backup
available. Or so I was told. Everyone knew I was in trouble and no one cared. I almost
died on that case. And it hadn't been the first time. I was trying to swim against the
current, but it was getting harder and harder to keep from drowning. I don't know how much
longer I would have lasted." He looked into Chris' eyes. "You saved my life. You
"And ya still don't want us to handle her?" Vin frowned unhappily.
He smiled slightly. "I didn't say that, Mr. Tanner. I just... I have no wish to
see her in jail. No matter what she did, she's still my mother. But I do need one of you
gentlemen to do me a favor."
"What?" Nathan asked suspiciously.
"You did mention you were going to make copies of the confession, did you not, Mr.
Buck smiled, rubbing his hands gleefully. "Oh, yeah! Can I be the one to give her
the tape? Please? Please, Ezra?"
Ezra chuckled at the child-like pleading. "By all means, Mr. Wilmington, please
do. She's staying at the Ritz. Let her know that if she ever tries anything against me or
any of you gentlemen ever again, a copy of that tape will be sent to the proper
authorities. I don't enjoy having to resort to blackmail, but it's the only way to prevent
this from happening again."
Nathan rose from the bed. "I think we should all go, the five of us, I mean.
Someone has to keep an eye on Buck."
The others nodded eagerly and moved to the door as one, making both Ezra and Chris
chuckle at their antics.
"Subtle, Mr. Jackson, very subtle." Ezra grinned as the other man winked.
"We'll let you know how it went later," Vin told them with a final wave.
"Vin?" Chris called after him.
"What?" The sharpshooter asked, poking his head in the room.
"*Much* later. Okay, Cowboy?"
Vin laughed. "Got it, pard. Have fun, you two!"
"Oh, we will. We will," Chris replied, leering at Ezra. "It's been over
a week since we've been together in this bed, Ezra. Time to correct that mistake."
"Then stop talking and let's do it," Ezra retorted with a smile, already
discarding their garments.
And they did, he did. Loving Chris with everything that he had, that he was. Seducing,
teasing and playing with him in preparation for his possession. He had been careful,
taking his time, as if loving Chris for the very first time. Pressing a slick finger in,
stretching tenderly. Later, there had been two, then three, which had stroked and caressed
and aroused until it was finally time.
And then Chris had taken him into his body, accepting his hard shaft, submitting to his
hunger. Writhing and panting and begging for him to move harder, faster, deeper. And Ezra
had obeyed each command gladly; losing himself in the other man and their lovemaking,
thrusting and stroking, kissing and nibbling until together they fell, whispering each
other's names as they climaxed.
And as he felt strong arms embracing him, Ezra knew he was going to be fine. His
relationship with his mother was probably never going to get better, but he had six dear
friends to lean on now, people he trusted and who would be there for him. For as Francis
Bacon had once said, 'Nothing opens the heart like a true friend, to whom you may impart
griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions and whatever lieth upon the heart to oppress it'.
Tant que je vive, mon cueur ne changera